Calls for Iraq exit cannot be ignored
A leading House Democrat is calling for redeployment of U.S. troops stationed in Iraq.
DISCORD in Congress over the war in Iraq has reached a new level with bipartisan Senate insistence on its timely conclusion and a hawkish Democrat's call for redeployment of U.S. troops to Iraq's periphery. The Bush administration no longer can dismiss such sentiment, which reflects growing public opposition to the war.
Rep. Neil Abercrombie and a few dozen other House members -- mostly liberal Democrats -- have opposed the war since its start and have been urging U.S. withdrawal since then. Their calls have drawn modest attention, contrasted by the stunning reaction to this week's tearful plea by Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., to change the course of U.S. policy.
A decorated Vietnam combat veteran and retired colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Murtha is the ranking Democrat on military spending matters and has earned bipartisan admiration during three decades in Congress. His words cannot be belittled, as a White House spokesman tried to do by saying Murtha was "endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party."
Neither can Murtha's proposal be categorized as "a policy of cut and run," as House Speaker Dennis Hastert depicted it. Instead, the thoughtful proposal calls for redeploying U.S. troops outside Iraq's border "consistent with the safety of U.S. forces," creation of "a quick reaction force in the region," an "over the horizon" Marine presence and diplomatic pursuit of Iraq security and stability.
Murtha proposes that President Bush withdraw troops from Iraq soil "at the earliest practicable date," which he said could be six months. Meanwhile, the Senate, by a 79-19 vote, required the White House to report its progress to Congress and declared 2006 as a year of "significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty."
While deadlines and timetables for withdrawal could be disastrous, Murtha is correct in describing the current course as "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion."
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